Scam artists posing as officials from the Internal Revenue Service are targeting seniors, students and first-generation Americans, often requesting payment from them for back taxes, the state attorney general said Wednesday.
With tax season around the corner, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman offered tips for those being targeted by fraudulent tactics he called “reprehensible.” In a news release from his office, Schneiderman said there had been a recent “uptick in local reports of telephone scammers.”
In many cases, the scammer poses as an IRS official who asks about a past-due tax balance, according to the release. The caller tells the victim that unless the debt is paid immediately officers will come to the victim’s home to arrest the victim.
The scammer then requests the debt be paid through a Green Dot Money Card or Western Union MoneyGram.
“Legitimate government organizations will never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt, and will never insist that consumers pay a debt only via a prepaid credit card,” Schneiderman said in the release.
If a person owes money the agency will send a “legitimate notice in writing that identifies the agency and the reason” the money is owed.
Schneiderman offered several tips, including never giving out personal information — Social Security numbers or banking account numbers.
Also, if you receive an unsolicited call asking for personal information, “just hang up the phone, no matter what the caller ID says,” the attorney general said.
Sometimes a scammer will pose as a bank representative who is checking on possible unauthorized withdrawals from your account. In this case, “hang up the phone and then call your bank.”
If the call was from your financial institution, it can confirm the call and often will “provide requests to you in writing,” the release said.
Officials also said if you doubt the validity of any call, don’t engage the caller.
“The safest thing to do is to say ‘no’ and hang up,” the attorney general said. “Legitimate callers will typically also provide requests in writing.
Schneiderman urged consumers to report possible scams to his office. Complaints can be filed at www.ag.ny.gov or by calling 800-771-7755.